Baryon loading and the Weibel instability in GRBs

Physics – Plasma Physics

Scientific paper

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Scientific paper

One of the unsolved problems in the astrophysics of extreme events is the magnetic field generation in gamma-ray bursts. Synchrotron radiation measurements indicate the presence of near-equipartition magnetic fields, but the origin of these fields is still under strong debate [1]. The Weibel instability seems to be a good candidate to explain magnetic fields in GRBs [2]. Using relativistic kinetic theory we show that, even if thermal effects may slow down the instability, the thermal spread does not shutdown the Weibel instability due to the ion presence. Baryons lead to a non-negligible growth rate beyond the threshold predicted for purely electromagnetic waves in electron-positron counter-streaming shells. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional fully relativistic particle-in-cell simulations, carried out with the OSIRIS framework [3], confirm our theoretical results for these scenarios. [1] E. Waxman, Nature 423, 388 (2003); W. E. Coburn, S. E. Boggs, Nature 423, 415 (2003) [2] M. Medvedev and A. Loeb, ApJ 526, 697 (1999); L. O. Silva et al., ApJLett 596, 121 (2003) [3] R. A. Fonseca et al., LNCS 2331, 342 (2002)

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